Police Grant Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:14 pm on 5th February 2019.

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Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle 4:14 pm, 5th February 2019

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Jack Dromey.

I have spoken about the problems of antisocial behaviour in my constituency a number of times before, and I agree with so many right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken today, but this debate is about more than just police funding; it is also about the cuts to local government. Youth services have been mentioned frequently and, given my role on the Select Committee on Education, I have often mentioned the problem of exclusions contributing to children being involved in crime.

I fear that we are missing a fundamental point. What does not seem to be mentioned is that the general public are losing faith in our police service. That is more than an issue for just the Government or the Opposition; it should concern every single one of us. I am quite sure that every Member here will know of a constituent who has told them about crime and then followed it with, “I didn’t see the point in telling the police,” or “I tried to phone the police and I couldn’t get through,” or “My friend phoned the police, got through and no one came around, so why should I bother reporting it?” In some of the more wealthy areas of my constituency, residents are even talking about providing their own security services to check their streets. This is starting to sound incredibly worrying, when people no longer have the faith that our public services and our police will keep them safe, to the point where they are talking about funding their own.

My children went to South Africa in the summer, and they told me that everybody there pays for their own security services because they have no faith in the Government. Surely this is not what we want in Britain; we do not want people to lose their faith in the police service. I say this not because I have any problems with the police service—the police do an incredible job—but because year on year of underfunding and of the police being stretched to a capacity that they cannot possibly sustain mean that crimes are not being dealt with.

When I talk to the police about area where there is additional crime, they say, “We know it’s a problem, Emma, but the people there never report it.” I go and talk to people in certain tower blocks in my constituency, and what they are facing is horrific, but the figures give a really poor impression of where the crime is. If hon. Members were to look at the statistics for my constituency, they might say, “Oh, the crime seems to be worse in the wealthier areas.” No—the people in those areas are more likely to report it. Crime is actually much, much worse in the tower blocks. The people there are having a horrendous time.

What I am saying to the Minister is that this is not just about asking for more money. Yes, we do want some more money, and we need a hell of a lot more than what the Government are offering us, but we also want to know how the Government will restore people’s faith that something is going to happen—that there is going to be an outcome when they make that phone call to the police.

The Home Secretary talked about the problem with mental health services, and I am sure that the Minister is aware of a wonderful police officer who, very sadly, committed suicide because she was not getting the support she needed. I say again to the Minister that this is not a criticism of any of our hard-working officers. I should especially mention Inspector Craig Mattinson, who I spent the day with and who does an incredible job locally. This is about me saying that, unless the Government take the problem of increasing crime more seriously, it will come back to bite each and every one of us. The last thing we want is people taking the law into their own hands, but I fear that that is what too many are being forced to do.